After a year in which the Eels finished last and star playmaker Corey Norman left the club for the St George Illawarra Dragons, Parramatta is set to turn to a highly-rated 18-year-old to help kick-start the team's turnaround in 2019.
The Auckland-born Dylan Brown is already a player in demand, with reports the Warriors were interested in him as Shaun Johnson's potential replacement, and he's already shown he's got the goods in the lower grades. In five games for the Wentworthville Magpies last season Brown's performances would have been worth 46.6 Fantasy points on average.
He's not a dominant kicker but he's a strong ball-runner – averaging 100 run metres and a few tackle breaks each match – and his defence is strong for a half with less than two missed tackles per game (tackle efficiency of 89%). He had a couple of try assists, three line-break assists and a try in those matches as well. And as a rookie he's as cheap as it gets in Fantasy.
Job security is the main issue for Brown, but coach Brad Arthur has already strongly hinted that the teen will get first shot at being Mitch Moses's halves partner. His main rival is 20-year-old Jaeman Salmon, who has been training in the centres in the pre-season.
There's a chance Salmon or Will Smith replaces Brown in the halves at some point if the Eels struggle early on, but the fact they're coming from such a low base boosts the chances that they'll stay patient with the youngster.
The other potential snag is Brown's scoring. Rookie halves have had mixed results in Fantasy – the likes of Nathan Cleary, Adam Reynolds and Daly Cherry-Evans were instant stars (and it's worth noting all three were dominant kickers) while Kane Elgey and Lachlan Croker could only manage scores in the low 20s and didn't quite earn the kind of cash to make buying them worth it.
To buy or not to buy?
It's impossible to predict how a rookie as young as Brown will perform, and halves in struggling teams don't have the easiest path to big Fantasy scores. But while he's unlikely to be a monster scorer the signs are Brown's defence and running game should be enough to get him close to 30 points a game, presuming he holds his spot in the starting side. You ideally want 25 points a game or more from rookie cash cows so that puts Brown in the "buy" category if he's named by Brad Arthur for round one.